To find a good home, check records and talk to residents
Advocacy groups and government agencies offer many tips on how to choose a nursing home. Some highlights:
•Residents should be involved as much as possible in deciding where they want to live.
•Make a list of nursing homes to visit. Consider location, proximity to relatives, facility size and services offered. Also, consider whether the home accepts Medicare and Medicaid if you will need to use those programs. Find out what services are not included in the basic daily rate.
•Consider putting your name on some of the homes’ waiting lists.
•Visit by appointment and visit unannounced. Make one of those visits in the evening or on a weekend. Use your senses to note the home’s cleanliness, odors, noise level and temperature. See if residents have privacy and are well-groomed. Watch how staff members respond to call lights or residents calling out. Look at what is served at mealtime and see whether healthy snacks are available throughout the day.
•Ask residents, families and staff questions about staffing levels and whether nurses aides are assigned to the same residents. Talk to leaders of the resident and family councils. Check the records
•Contact the state Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care at 1-800-657-3591 . The office can help with names of facilities in your areas and assist you in selecting a nursing home.
•Compare nursing homes on your list at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp .
•Also see the Minnesota nursing home report card at www.health.state.mn.us/nhreportcard .
•Look up state inspections of the facility to see what regulators have indicated as problem areas. See www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fpc/directory/surveyselect.cfm .
•Look at reports of state regulators who have investigated complaints against specific facilities. See www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fpc/directory/surveyapp/provcompselect.cfm .
After a loved one moves into a nursing home, stay involved to assure they are getting good care, experts say. Visit frequently, go to care conferences, get to know the staff and voice your concerns and compliments.
How to file a complaint
Complaints about nursing home care can be filed with the Minnesota Office of Health Facility Complaints. They can be reached at 651-201-4201 or 1-800-369-7994 .
Copies of complaint forms are also available at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fpc/ohfcinfo/filecomp.htm .
Complaints can be anonymous. The office does not reveal the identity of those making complaints.
Sources: ElderCare Rights Alliance, AARP, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Minnesota Department of Health.